Biggest national rail strike in 30 years as thousands of trains cancelled and warnings of more to come

Network Rail services grind to a halt leaving stations deserted with workers either staying at home or hitting the roads

Nothing we could do to stop rail strikes, says Grant Shapps

Britain ground to a halt on Tuesday with train stations left deserted as the biggest rail strike in thirty years got underway.

Some 40,000 RMT union members at Network Rail walked out over pay, jobs and conditions leaving only 4,500 of the usual 20,000 daily services expected to tun.

Euston, Waterloo and Victoria stations were almost empty on Tuesday morning, with only a handful of commuters travelling on the reduced service.

London’s Tube network was also shut down and many workers were forced to take the car into work instead. Queues were worse than usual at the Blackwall Tunnel in Greenwich as drivers tried to get into the centre of the city.

The normally heaving London Bridge station was almost empty Tuesday morning

Travellers warned not to travel at Nottingham Train Station

RMT union boss Mick Lynch threatened coordinated industrial action “across every town and city in Britain” on Tuesday morning.

Speaking to Sky news, Mr Lynch said: “If the government doesn’t change direction, I believe more strike actions is inevitable. We as trade unions need to sychronise.”

“If we need to have industrial action, we need to coordinate industrial action in every town and city.”

Passengers disembark from one of the few trains to arrive this morning at Waterloo

Despite a small number of trains arriving Waterloo was all but deserted on the first day of national rail strike

Meanwhile transport secretary Grant Shapps accused Mr Lynch of wanting to be a “1970s union baron” in his media round.

He told LBC: “I can see what’s happening here, their leader says he is nostalgic for the days of union powers and he’s determined to turn himself back into one of those 1970s union barons.”

Mr Shapps warned that ministers could change the law so companies could bring in agency workers to minimise the disruption of the strikes.

RMT members outside Birmingham New Street station

The picket line outside Bristol Temple Meads station

The boss of Network Rail, Andrew Haines, said he was “profoundly sorry” for the disruption faced by passengers.

One passenger, a healthcare support worker in north London, said he was an hour and a half late for work because of the travel disruption.

David Raposo Buzon, who was waiting at a bus stop from 6:30am to make it in for his 7:30am scheduled start, said NHS staff like himself “aren’t able to strike”.

With long queues and packed services, he could not make it to his work until 9am. “I feel ok with people doing strikes, but at the same time I feel angry when I think that NHS workers are not able to strike even if our conditions at work are really bad,” he said.

An eerily quiet Glasgow Central Station

Commuters head onto the roads in Hammersmith as trains are cancelled across the country

Another traveller, Susan Millson from southwest London, condemned the rail strikes as “outrageous” and “awful”. She said she had been forced to cancel her trip to East Grinstead to see her sister for the day.

Speaking from Clapham Junction station, Ms Millson said that she had hoped her train might be running but arrived to find it had been cancelled.

“I just think it’s outrageous that there is no give and take between the unions and the government. No one is giving any leeway at the moment, it’s awful, it’s just awful,” she said.

Traveller Susan Millson, 69, said the rail strikes are 'outrageous' and 'awful'

RMT workers formed pickets across the country with strikers pictured in Sheffield, Leeds and Nottingham.

Several Labour MPs showed solidarity with the rail workers with some joining the picket lines.

Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, joined the strikers in Morpeth, tweeting: “Solidarity with the RMT union today and all days.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has warned of more action to come

Tahir Ali, MP for Birmingham Hall Green, said he would be joining the pickets later on Tuesday and said: “Solidarity to all those who are out taking action to protect jobs, ensure safety, and win better pay and conditions.”

To add to the shut down, the National Rail website crashed on Tuesday morning with people trying to access the site being presented with an error message.

Packed buses in London as commuters find alternative ways to get to work

The website for Transport for London was also down.

Chief executive of industry group UK Hospitality, Kate Nicholls, said that the rail strikes will cost Britain’s restaurants and pubs more than £500million.

She said that the shutdown would be felt not only by the workers who can’t get to work but “more importantly their customers not being able to travel”.

“Many of them are shutting early, or are not opening for all the strike days and that means our hospitality workers will not be able to work,” she added.

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